Top 10 best hybrid cars to buy 2024
With more hybrid cars on the market than ever before, these are the top 10 best hybrid cars you can buy…
Electrified cars are becoming an increasingly common sight on British roads as a result of political, environmental and market pressures. Hybrid cars of all types, including mild, full and plug-in hybrids, are a popular choice for drivers because they theoretically offer a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to eco-friendly motoring.
As hybrid technology becomes widely available in everything from small superminis to family SUVs, choosing a suitable hybrid car can be tricky. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up the best hybrids currently on the market, along with some buying advice to help you pick the best hybrid car to suit your needs.
It’s not hard to see the appeal. Hybrid technology can improve the fuel efficiency of a variety of cars, meaning there are real financial savings to be made. Hybrids also make a lot of sense for lower-mileage or urban-based private buyers, as well as for fleet users looking to decrease company car tax bills.
Plug-in hybrid cars (PHEVs) also offer significant pure-electric driving range, with the majority capable of covering 30 miles or more without burning a drop of petrol. However, as the name suggests, plug-in hybrids need to be charged regularly to deliver the best range and fuel economy possible.
Mild-hybrid vehicles will appeal to those not wanting to worry about charging up as they incorporate a small electric motor that is used solely to assist the engine and not work independently from it. Mild-hybrids are usually the cheapest way into hybrid car ownership but there’s no pure-electric driving at all.
As hybrid technology advances, manufacturers are achieving an ever-improving balance between performance and efficiency, with hybrids of all types playing a key role in bridging the gap between internal-combustion and electric cars.
Best hybrid cars to buy now
Our expert team of road testers have driven every hybrid car on sale in the UK and below we list our top 10 best hybrids currently on the market, counting down from number 10...
10. Lexus NX
Outgunning BMW in the premium or luxury SUV sector is no mean feat, but Lexus has done exactly that with the latest NX. The firm has always drawn in customers with its exceptional comfort, build quality and an impeccable dealer network, and the NX embodies these qualities in an X3-beating package.
The NX 350h wraps the latest Toyota RAV4's powertrain tech in a more opulent, refined SUV, and while it's objectively the superior car, the more affordable Toyota is better value. Nevertheless, buyers will appreciate the NX's hushed road manners and suave interior, which features the slickest tech suite we've used in a Lexus. With the optional 14-inch touchscreen setup, you certainly won't be wanting for more pixels.
9. Renault Clio
On the outside, the latest Renault Clio is very much an evolution of its predecessor, especially following its recent facelift. But big changes under the skin have brought it right to the sharp end of the supermini market. Unlike rivals such as the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20, the Clio features a full hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to generate 143bhp.
The hybrid achieves over 60mpg and sprints from 0-62mph in under ten seconds, plus the rest of the package is a marked improvement over the old car. The Clio is relatively engaging through twisting roads, and the well-judged suspension offers a decent blend of precision and comfort. Cabin quality is particularly strong too, and the five door-only bodystyle provides enough rear legroom for adults and a large 391-litre boot.
8. Toyota Corolla
Much like its Yaris and RAV4 relatives that also appear on this list, the Corolla is yet another model that is now powered by Toyota’s tried-and-tested ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid technology.
The British-built hatch is offered in 1.8 and 2.0-litre models, both of which automatically shuffle between their two power sources and use the car’s petrol engine to charge the battery. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes the place of a traditional automatic gearbox, and this helps to make the most of the drivetrain’s power.
Those craving a little more punch can pick the top 2.0-litre hybrid model. With 177bhp on tap, 0-62mph takes just 7.9 seconds; fuel economy and emissions take a slight hit, but this model still offers a great balance of performance and low running costs. The Corolla also has received a slight refresh, which included a new infotainment system and the addition of a 10.5-inch central touchscreen on all models. It’s a massive improvement over the set-up the Corolla came with at launch, but people can still take advantage of the standard-fit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if they prefer.
7. Kia Sportage
The sixth and seventh placed models in this list are almost interchangeable, so closely matched are the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. The Hyundai is a touch more affordable and slightly more cushioned over bumps, but for some, the Kia’s radical design and even more advanced interior will be worth the extra outlay.
The Sportage isn’t particularly engaging thanks to its compliant suspension setup and light steering, but rear seat passengers will appreciate its impressive cabin space, while those in the front are greeted with a pair of impressive 12.3-inch infotainment displays. These provide access to the Kia’s class-leading tech suite, which includes sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
6. Hyundai Tucson
Its bold styling won’t be to all tastes, but there’s no denying the Hyundai Tucson’s deep-seated quality as a family SUV. In fact, it’s so good that we’ve named it our Mid-size SUV of the Year three years on the trot now at our New Car Awards. The Tucson Hybrid utilises a 1.6-litre electrically-assisted powertrain with 230bhp, and its efficiency figures are respectable for what is a roomy, tech-packed machine.
Like the Kia Sportage, which shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai, the Tucson drives with finesse without veering towards sportiness, and its relaxed gait makes it a pleasant companion for long trips. Inside, liberal use of fingerprint-prone gloss black trim detracts from what is otherwise a well built, attractive cabin, offering a generous level of standard kit.
5. Toyota RAV4
Much like its smaller Yaris and Corolla stablemates, the RAV4 has one of the most seamless hybrid systems around. The angular SUV is much bulkier than the smaller hatchbacks, so it needs a bit more shove; here, petrol power comes courtesy of a 176bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit, while the electric motor offers up another 118bhp – plus another 54bhp if you get the four-wheel-drive version.
Whichever variant you choose, there’s lots of power to shift a family of five, plus a generous 580-litre boot big enough for all their stuff. It’s more than brisk enough, and it’s even more fun to drive than similarly priced SUV alternatives, too. It’s backed up by fine comfort, a strong warranty and lots of standard kit, so it really feels like you get to have your hybrid cake and eat it.
4. Kia Niro
We’ve thought long and hard about it, but when it comes to the sensible stuff, the Kia Niro is incredibly tricky to fault. The spacious five-door crossover bodystyle means that there’s loads of space inside for family life, and even base models are well equipped with phone connectivity, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and a driver’s knee airbag all standard.
Whether you’re ready to make the switch to electric driving or feel like it’s not quite for you yet, Kia has you covered, because there’s a selection of Niro hybrid, Niro PHEV and pure-electric powertrains to choose from. The former starts from just over £30,000 and while it won’t thrill you, it’ll get you to where you want to be while merely sipping fuel along the way.
3. Dacia Jogger Hybrid
There’s no doubt about it, the Dacia Jogger is incredible value for money; if you want a seven-seat family car, it’s much cheaper than any other new-car alternative. You miss out on some of the luxuries in pricier rivals, and the cabin is basic, but it’s not short on tech under the bonnet.
A 1.6-litre petrol engine works alongside electric motors and a clever multimode gearbox to deliver reasonable performance and return up to 57.7mpg in WLTP testing. According to Dacia, the Jogger Hybrid can run in pure-electric mode up to 80 per cent of the time when you’re driving in town. There’s only one downside here; the base petrol model is £3,000 cheaper, so unless you do huge miles (or you really need an automatic car), you’re unlikely to recoup that cost with lower fuel bills. But as hybrids go, it’s still a star.
2. Toyota Yaris
When it comes to building hybrid powertrains, Toyota is more experienced than pretty much any other manufacturer, and that really shines through in the latest Yaris. The basic template for the dependable superminis’s petrol/electric set-up is largely similar to the brand’s first production hybrid, the Prius; an Atkinson Cycle petrol engine (in this case, a 1.5-litre unit) drives a CVT transmission with assistance from an electric motor and a small battery.
But constant honing of that formula has resulted in a superbly smooth, lively and efficient small car. Officially it’ll hit as much as 57.6mpg, and we’ve achieved a figure very similar to that in real-world driving. Better still, the Yaris is among the more fun cars to drive in its class. While more suited around town, the small supermini can also hold its own on the motorway, too, making it a sensible all-rounder.
Equipment is pretty generous too, with even the base model featuring 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, air conditioning, a reversing camera and a multi-function leather-trimmed steering wheel as standard. The Yaris’s infotainment system may not be as clear or intuitive as its rivals’, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity are both standard.
1. Honda Civic
A large part of the reason why the Honda Civic is our favourite family hatchback is down to its brilliant petrol/electric powertrain, so it’s no surprise that it’s also managed to scoop the top spot in our hybrid category, too. Under the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre petrol engine that works alongside a pair of electric motors and a 1.06kWh battery.
Not only does that mean there’s a very healthy 181bhp on tap, but around town it’ll spend the majority of its time driving in full-electric mode. When the Civic faced off against a Toyota Corolla and a Vauxhall Astra in our family-car group test, it averaged just over 50mpg, making it both the most frugal and fastest car of the trio.
Inside, the latest Civic combines high-quality materials and a much slicker infotainment system than its predecessor. The notchback bodystyle, spacious cabin and 401-litre boot also offers plenty of space for four people and their luggage.
Best hybrid cars to buy
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Yaris
- Dacia Jogger Hybrid
- Kia Niro
- Toyota RAV4
- Hyundai Tucson
- Kia Sportage
- Toyota Corolla
- Renault Clio
- Lexus NX
How to choose the best hybrid car to buy
Choosing a hybrid car of any kind rather than a conventionally powered alternative needn’t be the big step that many might fear.
As with any new vehicle purchase it’s sensible to assess your annual mileage, and to consider what you’ll use your car for. If you’re a lower-mileage driver, the running costs of a conventional petrol hybrid could make it a sound alternative to a petrol or diesel car, but if you plan to rack up motorway miles, a regular diesel or even a diesel hybrid may make more financial sense.
The choice is easier for company car users, however; the lower CO2 emissions of hybrids mean they qualify for much more palatable Benefit-in-Kind rates than most non-electrified models. Although the best company car tax savings are now reserved for pure-electric models
Plug-in hybrids tend to be more expensive than self-charging hybrid models but you could well recoup the extra if you regularly travel shorter distances purely on electric power, thanks to their bigger batteries. If your budget allows, a PHEV makes a lot of sense as a zero-emissions, zero-fuel commuter, all the while offering the option for covering longer distances with acceptable fuel economy once the engine has kicked in. Just be warned that driving a PHEV for extended periods without charging the battery can lead to very poor efficiency figures.
Current industry trends mean that SUV buyers are spoilt for choice, but those after other forms of hybrid transport have a little less to choose from. Our list covers most bases but you won’t find many hybrid city cars or sports cars, for example.
As hybridisation spreads through more car makers’ ranges, it’s likely that choice will continue to expand exponentially. If you’re buying your next family car and want to take a step towards a lower carbon footprint, or just lower running costs, there’s a lot to get excited about.